Landlord has dissolved Ltd company and not returned a deposit

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    Landlord has dissolved Ltd company and not returned a deposit

    Hi everyone! I think it's a complicated one...

    I recently moved out of a shared flat in London I had been in for three months. I rented my room based on a six-month license agreement with a three month break clause, which all seemed fine. I paid a deposit (one month's rent) and the break clause was immediately triggered. The landlord didn't live in the property, and in fact the license agreement was between me and a limited company (not the landlord - although his name was on the document that triggered the break clause as "Joe Bloggs of X Ltd"). Because it was a license agreement, the deposit wasn't protected. A bit weird, but I was desperate.

    I left the house in mid-August, and was assured verbally (nothing in writing) that my deposit would be returned soon. Maybe naïve, but I took him at his word. A couple of weeks later, no deposit, so I got in touch and he said he'd send it the next week. Next week, no deposit. That happened again a couple of times over a month. I started getting concerned and began to look into him and his company (e.g. Companies House). Turned out X Ltd had been dissolved in mid-August and he'd set up a new one with almost exactly the same name. I continued trying to contact him, but the phone number didn't work any more and there was no response to emails.

    I did some more digging (after seeing the same flat on SpareRoom from a different agency), and discovered that he had rented the property from another agency on the pretence that he would live in it himself. When they found out after he stopped paying them rent, he disappeared, owing that agency thousands in rent payments. I haven't heard anything from him since the beginning of September, and he still has my deposit. I have no means of contacting him other than three addresses I have discovered - two associated with the new and old companies on Companies House, and one provided to me by the agency he was renting the property from (along with the other documents he had given them).

    UPDATE: Someone else (presumably the agency that owned the house) has objected to the dissolution, and it has been suspended!

    So, I have three questions:

    - As he didn't live in the property, is it still a license agreement or can it be construed as a Assured Shorthand Tenancy, therefore with greater protections?

    - As the company I had the license agreement with was dissolved, is there any chance of getting my deposit back through the courts? - UPDATE: Dissolution has been suspended

    - If I send a notice of court action to the three addresses I have, it's possible he will never see it. Does that affect any future court action, if I don't have a current address or any other means of contacting him? I don't even know if I have his real name.

    - BONUS QUESTION: Am I better off going to the police or the small claims court?

    Thank you to anyone and everyone who can provide any insight.
    Last edited by mcrorigan; 18-10-2018, 13:25 PM. Reason: Update

    #2
    My guess is that it is better to start with the police, as a fraud conviction should make it easier to sue the directors of the company.

    For future reference, set a Companies House monitor on any company that is that important to you. If they try to get the company voluntarily struck off, you can abort that process.

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      #3
      Thanks leaseholder64. I actually had no idea you could object to a company's dissolution, and could have done this a few weeks ago. Luckily, it looks like someone else has objected, and the dissolution has been suspended. Do you still think the police are the best option?

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        #4
        You should file an objection as well so CH also knows about you. Also, give as much information as you have to CH about what happened. In an ideal world, you want CH (or whoever as appropriate) to prosecute the director so the director end up being personally liable for the companies liability.

        You almost certainly had a tenancy, so you could sue for a penalty, but the difficulty is not in winning that but getting paid.

        In terms of notice for service, serve it to whatever address you were given for notice for service in the "license" agreement. Alternatively, as the company dissolution has been suspended, the company exist, you can serve it to the company registered address.
        I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

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          #5
          Thanks KTC. I will file an objection as you recommend. I'm glad to hear you believe it was a tenancy, rather than a license agreement. To clarify, the fact that it said "license agreement" all over the contract doesn't actually matter, right? Because in practice I was a tenant and not a lodger?

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            #6
            I don't see how a company could give a lodger agreement as a company cannot reside at an address.

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              #7
              Well, it said licence agreement not lodger, which is theoretically possible depending on the facts.

              Originally posted by mcrorigan View Post
              To clarify, the fact that it said "license agreement" all over the contract doesn't actually matter, right? Because in practice I was a tenant and not a lodger?
              Yes, all depends on the actual occupation not what the agreement may call it. See Street v Mountford [1985].
              I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks both for your advice, it's honestly very helpful. I'll send letters before action to the registered addresses on CH (one was also on the license agreement). Do you think it affects anything that neither the limited company nor the "landlord" actually owned the building or had the right to lease out rooms?

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                  #9
                  I think that is a matter for the true landlord to deal with.

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                    #10
                    Could be a breach of contract if the landlord had asserted that they had permission to grant that tenancy, but unless you leaving was because the superior landlord/homeowner found out and evicted as a result, I don't see any loss and thus any damages.
                    I am not a lawyer, nor am I licensed to provide any regulated advice. None of my posts should be treated as legal or financial advice.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      You could argue that as company dissolved their tenancy with owner has ended do thanks to s18 of housing act 1988 owner is now landlord and owes you deposit
                      I am legally unqualified: If you need to rely on advice check it with a suitable authority - eg a solicitor specialising in landlord/tenant law...

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                        #12
                        OP said dissolution of the company has been suspended. Personally i think you might be best just to write it off, you could be chasing your tail for a long time on this.

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                          #13
                          Strikeoff's will only be suspended long enough to allow you to take the company to court, so you need to act quickly or the suspension may be removed.

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